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Signs of the Times Cartoonist Passes Away

Justin Green delighted readers with “The Sign Game.”




CINCINNATI. Justin Green, sign company proprietor, underground cartoonist and author of “Justin Green’s Sign Game” cartoon, which appeared monthly in Signs of the Times from 1986 to 2006, passed away on April 23. He was 76.

Justin Green. Photo by Jeff Russ.

He is survived by his wife Carol Tyler and their daughter Julia, as well as another daughter, Catlin. Carol Tyler wished to share via her Facebook page, “A more formal obit is in the works. Planning a memorial exhibit and celebration of life for Justin in early December, details to be announced later.”

A Traditional Signpainter

Green created his Signs of the Times cartoon from real life. A self-described signpainter who found his career altered by the technological breakthroughs in printing and substrates beginning in the 1980’s, his cartoons often reflected that challenge, as well as the wisdom and insights of a traditional “sign snapper.”

He continued to make his living using paint and brush for the most part, until he retired in the early 2000’s.


Underground Cartoonist and His Many Books

In 1995, Signs of the Times’ Book Division compiled his best episodes of “The Sign Game” from the 1980’s up to that point in a book entitled Justin Green’s Sign Game. Publication of the book was eventually taken over by Last Gasp Publishing, which published a number of Green’s other, more “underground” titles, Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary (1972) and Justin Green’s Binky Brown Sampler (1995). 

An episode of “Justin Green’s Sign Game” from Signs of the Times.

An episode of “Justin Green’s Sign Game” from Signs of the Times, photographed from the original art given to then-ST Book Div. Director Mark Kissling (now editor-in-chief for Signs of the Times). “The Story of O” perfectly captures Green’s presentation of the supreme challenge of brush-painting a perfect letter “o,” mixed with the irreverent humor of naming the episode after the title of an erotic French novel of the same name.

Inspired by the art of R Crumb, Green himself is reported to have inspired roommate Art Spiegelman, author of the graphic novel Maus.

In the 1990’s, Green created a series of visual biographies for Pulse!, the in-house magazine for Tower Records. It ran for 10 years, and was later collected into an anthology known as Musical Legends (Last Gasp, 2004).

“Justin Green was an anachronism; a throwback to the ‘mahl-men’ muralists and ladder-ridin’ barn-painters of days past,” says Jeff Russ, content studio manager of Signs of the Times’ parent company SmartWork Media and a longtime friend of Green. “With his monthly ‘Sign Game’ cartoon, Justin chronicled witty and insightful aspects of what it meant to sling signs. With his passing, the sign industry has lost a keen observer of its history, its timeless frustrations and its capacity for humor.”


Justin Green will be missed. For more information, see The Daily Cartoonist.

Mark Kissling is Signs of the Times’ Editor-in-Chief. Contact him at



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